The Hong Kong government has sought since 2007 to introduce "national education" courses into primary and secondary school curriculum, aimed at strengthening students' "national identity awareness" and nurturing patriotism towards China. The programme has met with increasing public opposition in recent years, with many in Hong Kong seeing it as a brainwashing attempt by the Chinese Communist Party to suppress dissent.
National education supporters to march in Central on Saturday
Rally in Central this Saturday will call for the school subject to be brought back
Supporters of the shelved national education programme will rally at Statue Square in Central on Saturday afternoon in an effort to persuade the government to either revive the controversial curriculum or introduce something similar.
The rally is being organised by Sounds of Silence, formed a year ago when supporters of the subject held a hunger strike in Chater Garden in the face of widespread protests by opponents.
Convenor Chan Kin-sun said the anti-national-education campaign had set an "extremely bad example", inspiring a series of immoral actions such as the civil disobedience movement Occupy Central planned for next year and a primary school teacher swearing at police officers.
He accused these groups of creating a "moral panic".
"We want the government to know there are still people supporting national education," he said, suggesting the government consider reviving the subject or enhance patriotic education through other subjects, such as liberal studies or history.
The plan to introduce national education, which was widely criticised as an attempt to brainwash pupils, was shelved last October after weeks of protests by thousands of residents outside the government headquarters in Tamar, Admiralty.
Eva Chan Sik-chee, convenor of the Parents' Concern Group on National Education, said Chan's accusations were illogical.
"Anti-national-education groups are mainly students, teachers and parents," she said. "We did not create any chaos during protests. I cannot see any relation between us and Occupy Central or insulting the police."
Joshua Wong Chi-fung, convenor of student-led group Scholarism, said Sounds of Silence was not recognised among the majority of Hongkongers. He added that he expected to see pro-government groups attend its rally.
"We won't go there and protest," he said. "We'll wait to see what the pro-establishment people have to say about national education, which most people don't support."
Sounds of Silence said it expected about 100 people at its rally on Saturday afternoon.
According to its announcement, Silent Majority leader Ho Lok-sang, Basic Law Committee member Lau Nai-keung, and pro-Beijing Parents' Association leader Leticia Lee See-yin will attend the event.